Thursday, March 29, 2012

Center Cut Pork, Proscuitto wrapped Shrimp, Risotto and Blue Berry Gastrique

When I cook, I like to follow techniques more so than recipes directly.  The way I look at it, if you understand the ratios then its not as important what the exact ingredients are as it is the function and taste of what each combination is designed to accomplish as a whole.  For example in the gastrique I made, if you wanted to use blackberries or raspberries instead of blueberries or cognac, whisky or rum instead of Triple Sec like I used, then more power to you.  I happened to use Triple Sec because that's all we had and I used blueberries because they are Kaia's favorite and its good to have them at the house. 

I think this philosophy helps me find my own style.  Admittedly, I would get my ass kicked in a professional kitchen but with time and thought I really enjoy some of the combinations and recipes that come out of our household.

Blueberries (1 pint per 3-4 servings)
Chili pepper of choice
Balsamic Vinegar
Triple Sec
Arborio Rice
Chicken Stock
Red Pepper Flake (optional)
Center Cut Pork Chop (preferably bone in)
Olive Oil and Butter

Blueberry Gastrique 3-4 Servings
1. Roughly mince the shallot and chili and sweat them in butter in a pan on medium low heat about 5 minutes.
2.  Add 3 tablespoons Triple Sec, 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, 1.5 table spoons of sugar, a big pinch of salt and 1 pint of blueberries.
3.  Reduce on medium heat until the blueberries are breaking down, about 20 minutes. 
4.  Puree the sauce in a blender, cover or keep warm.  (tip: if it gets cold before serving get it back in a sauce pan, if too thick or gelatinous add a tiny bit of water.  The sauce should be made first and finished before other components)

Risotto w Cream
1.  Heat oil and butter in good pan or dutch oven on medium heat.  Warm up chicken stock.
2.  Add the Arborio rice and toast it for a couple minutes. 
3.  Start adding the stock on ladle full at a time and stirring frequently until the liquid is dissolved and then repeating.  Continue this about 18-30 minutes depending on portion size, cooking temperature and how fast you can cook risotto.  The finished rice should have texture to it but not be crunchy. 
4.  When the rice is ready to be finished add about a cup of cream and quarter to half cup of parm and cook it down.  The risotto should be loose and run when you spoon it onto your plate.

Pork Chop
1.  Marinate the Pork in Olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic.  (Should be done first, can be done anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours before cook time).  Season the pork chop before and after it is marinated. 
2.  When cooking this dish, after you get the sauce about half finished minutes heat the pan to medium high, add the oil and cook the pork.  (You should also gauge this cooking time based on thickness of the cut.  In the picture I took I was about 5-6 minutes per a side and then about 1-2 minutes in the oven plus four minutes resting time for a very moist medium chop)
3.  Set oven to Broil.
4.  When you flip the chop, melt a little butter on top, as it melts into the oil, reduce the heat to medium or low taking care not to burn the butter and then take a spoon and baste the pork chop.
5.  Rest about 4 minutes under tin foil.

Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp
1.  Remove shells, peel and de-vein if needed
2.  Toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper and red pepper flake.
3.  Wrap in Prosciutto
4.  Broil for about 2 minutes per side and remove from hot oven. 

I made this dish earlier and shared with my daughter Kaia... She loves shrimp... She was saying "Mo Shrimp, Mo Rice" and of course she was munching on blueberries the whole time I was cooking everything.   I think it hits on a lot of points and its a little strange and has something unique from my personality because shrimp and berries are being introduced and I think the gastrique really wakes up your palate but also has enough body that its not "too sweet".  And of course its all about the pork at the end of day, which is my favorite of all the meats and is the main component on this plate.  Twas good.  Enjoy your living and your eating and best of luck to all of you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chili Citrus glazed Salmon, sea Scallops, roasted Sunchokes and Carrots

We've had an abundance of good ingredients around the house lately.  Chile's, goat cheese, good bleu cheese, locally made sausage and a ton of vegetables.  Tonight we made a dish that started with using some of the great sunchokes and little gourmet carrots Jessica picked up and evolving from there.  To me if you're going to have a very vegetable forward, earthy dish that really pairs great with sea food.  Jessica picked up some nice salmon fillets and a few scallops at the market and I came up with a citrus based sauce using ingredients we already had in our pantry that tied everything together.  Here is the recipe.

2 Chili's per 3 servings
1/2 cup orange juice
3 lemons, limes or combination of either (per 3 servings)
Red onion
Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes)
2 Scallops per serving
Tequila or white wine (optional)

Chili Citrus Glaze
1.  Dice half of small red onion and about 2 small chili's very finely.
2.  Combine Orange juice citrus zest, citrus juice and about 1/8 cup of water.
3.  Saute onions and chili's in oil until onions translucent, then season lightly. 
4.  Add 1/4 cup liquor and de-glaze
5.  Add citrus liquid and honey to taste.
6.  Reduce at a simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Add honey, additional chili's etc. to taste.

Roasted Vegetables
1.  Preheat oven to 425
2.  Slice the sunchokes into about 1/4 inch pieces.
3,  On a sheet pan season the carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper
4,  Roast the carrots for 18-22 minutes and the sunchokes (also seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper) for 15-20.

1.  Season the salmon with salt, pepper, citrus liquid.  Roast in the oven preferably on a cast iron skillet for about 8 minutes.
2.  About halfway through cook time, open the oven and glaze the salmon with the citrus sauce. 

1.  Season with salt and pepper.  Get a pan smoking hot, add oil and cook 2 minutes per side.  Scallops should be no more than medium rare and should be seared very well.

Plate everything up to your liking.  I like the harem scarem kind of plating for this dish although I wish I used a circular plate unlike the square one in the picture.  The sauce should be liberally applied to the seafood but only drizzled over the other parts of the plate.  Its a strong flavor but lends, acid, sweetness, sourness and a little heat to the dish which is otherwise simply prepared and minimalistic.   I really like sunchokes, they are similar to potatoes but are lighter, more vegetal and less starchy and these carrots are amazing. The salmon was cooked perfect and the scallops very well seared (although maybe in all honesty in this picture about 20 seconds over).  The key is light but even application of the sauce because when you get just the right amount it livens up your palate, but too much and it muddles the otherwise very clean flavors.  I'm going to keep working on this one and hope to cook it again soon:-)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lemon Penne

Per the request of Jessica's friend Veronica and after a prolonged absence (apologies) here is a recipe that Jessica craves.  Its light, contains easily sourceable ingredients but its still very filling because of the pasta and cheese.  All you do is boil the pasta, make the vinaigrette, prep the other ingredients and combine them in a pan.

Grape Tomatoes
2-3 Lemons (Depending on how much lemon flavor you like)
Olive oil
Dijon Mustard

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Get your water boiling. Drop the box of penne into boiling, well salted(VERY IMPORTANT!) water. Cook until al dente, consistently stirring. About 11 minutes.
3.  Grate 1- 2 cups of Parm, depending on how cheesy you like your pasta.
4.  Dice 1 large ball of mozzarella into bite sized pieces.
5.  Season 2-3 cups of arugula with salt and pepper.
6. Put a pint of grape tomatoes in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Pull them out right before they burst.
7.  Cut the bread and pop it in the oven.  When its done rub it with a clove of garlic.
8.  For the vinaigrette juice 2-3 lemons into a bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.  A tablespoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  (sometimes I add a little bit of minced shallot but not always) Slowly whisk in 3/4c of olive oil.  We like an acidic vinaigrette in our house, if you like a more basic version just add more oil to taste.
9.  Drain the pasta.
10.  Add about half the lemon vinaigrette to the pan and then the pasta and arugula.  Stir over low heat, adding more sauce over the top to taste. 
11.  Add the parm, then the mozzarella and finally the grape tomatoes (be careful not to break tomatoes for presentation purposes)
12.  Spoon it all into a bowl, grab your bread, grate a little parm and additional black pepper over the top and enjoy.

Once you get this recipe down pat you can make it in twenty minutes or less.  Its one of the few things I make that Jessica actually likes better than I do.  I'm always thinking of ways to tweak the recipe and her suggestion is "Don't do it, just make the lemon pasta!".  And so I do.  And now you can too:-)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Season of Soup~ Salmon and Corn Chowder

Winter is a great time for soup, hot, comforting, filling, excellent as leftovers. But we may have been overdoing it a bit.  There have been weeks when we have eaten soup for dinner most nights.  I can't help it. It's so easy!  I recently purchased a crockpot. A NICE crockpot.  I knew myself and I know that if I didn't get one with a few bells and whistles, I would have never used it. It has been amazing.  I love putting together all of the ingredients after breakfast and leave it alone, simmering our soup all day while the house fills with the yummy fragrance of our dinner.
This recipe did not use the crockpot because it was not needed.  This recipe is fast and easy, it will sure to be become a weeknight staple. This recipe serves 4.

Salmon and Corn Chowder

3 tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery cut into 1/2 in slices
1/2 lb unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 bunch green onion chopped
2 ears of corn off the cob, pan roasted for a few minutes
3-4 c chicken or fish stock
1c heavy cream
pinch of cayenne
2 lbs salmon, skinned
grated zest and juice of a lemon
bunch of dill, minced

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the celery for 3-4 minutes. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the corn, green onion and 2 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, cover then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the cream and cayenne and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add the salmon and lemon zest, making sure that the liquid covers the salmon. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through, adding extra stock if needed.  Remove from heat and the lemon juice and taste to adjust seasonings.  Top with the dill.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beef with Bleu Cheese Grits and asparagus two ways.

I thought up this recipe from a few ideas, techniques and flavors I'm familiar with and from watching cooking shows.  I saw a competitor on Chopped make Blue Cheese grits and thought that would be great with Beef.  I came up with the shaved asparagus salad from watching Tiffany in season 5 or 6 cure asparagus in water.  Tom Colicchio said it wasn't flavorful so I thought why not cure it in an acidulated ice bath so it would bring a really lemony quality to a rich dish.

Ingredients to Serve 2
2 ounces blue cheese
1 Bundle of asparagus
12-16 ounces of steak
2-3 Lemons
Grape Tomatoes
Chicken Stock
Oil and butter

1) Season the cherry tomatoes and on half of the asparagus with olive oil salt and pepper and then roast at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes, until tomatoes are ready to burst in your mouth.  Season tomatoes and put them in freezer or fridge to chill. (Depending on how fast you plan to work.) Set asparagus aside.
2) Squeeze the juice of two lemons and add about one part water to one part lemon juice.  Add ice and then shave the other half of the asparagus into the acidulated ice bath.  Put in fridge.
3) Season steak with salt, black pepper and cayenne.  Let warm to room temperature.
4) Grate Parmesan. 
5) Boil one cup water and one cup chicken stock to a rolling boil and reduce to low heat.  Slowly stir in one half cup of grits. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. 
6)While grits are cooking, get your pan smoking hot for steak.  Add canola oil and cook steak to desired temperature (medium rare unless you're a heathen:-) 
7)  Drain shaved asparagus combine with cherry tomatoes, season to taste.. 
8) Remove the asparagus from oven.  It should cook 12-16 minutes, again depending on how you like it cooked.  Season it with lemon juice, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Slice on a bias into three sections.
9) Rest steak. Remove grits from heat, add blue cheese, salt and black pepper to grits. They should be loose but not watery, run across the plate like a good risotto.
10) Put it on the plate.  I like the grits in the middle fanned into a little circle, the sliced steak on top and the asparagus preparations on opposite sides of the meat.

I like the contrast of temperatures with the cool acidic salad and the creamy rich grits.  Beef and Blue cheese go well together, Tomatoes and Blue cheese are a classic, asparagus and beef are also a classic pairing.  Cook time is probably about 30-45 minutes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Salmon en Papillote

This sounds French and fancy but its the easiest recipe in the world, whether you call it en papillote, en cartoccio or just steamed in a paper bag the prep to finish time for a couple or few servings is under 20 minutes and it uses only a few basic ingredients.  We borrowed it from Julia Child.


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2.  Finely mince the shallot, chop the parsley and tomatoes.  Mix and season well with salt and pepper. 

3.  Season the salmon well.  Place about one pat of butter per 6oz piece of salmon on top of the fish.

4. Place the fish in a paper bag, surround it with the tomato mixture, covering some of the fish.  Roll up the end of the bag until its tight sealed but still "puffy" (so the fish can steam)

5.  Place the bag in the oven for 10-12 minutes depending on what temperature you like.

6.  Remove from oven, break open the bag, squeeze lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. 

Note:  This dish has a lot of very mild, healthy flavors and really benefits from good assertive seasoning.  Don't skip the salt, pepper and especially lemon juice on the finish.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicken Week Part 2: Arugula Salad with Pesto Dressing

This dish literally flies together.  Just about as fast as you can fry off some chicken tenders, you can cook this dish.  And it grows on you.  (We have a great quick burrito recipe that reminds me of this one for the same reasons) We buy a lot of grape tomatoes.  They are sweet, you can pop them in your mouth for a snack, they roast well and burst when you eat them and they fit well into a lot of different recipes.  The first time I had the salad I thought it was just ok... But then I thought about how healthy it is, how it takes one of the humblest, cheapest cuts of meat, the boneless chicken tender and utilizes it perfectly.  And I love Pesto, such a wonderful salty herbaceous flavor.  Its a healthy dish and for our purposes with Chicken Week, it shows the versatility of chicken because unlike the bone in thighs which are sultry and indulgent but take a long time to braise in order to serve a large table, this dish is light, fast can literally be brought together in 20 minutes or less.  It makes sense for one person for a lunch portion just as well as a light dinner when you're feeling a little rotund.   Plus its a very pretty plate.   You don't have an hour to cook every night but you don't have to sacrifice the integrity of your dish.

8 chicken tenders
Olive oil
salt and pepper
6c Baby Arugula
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2c fresh mozzerella, cubed
lemon juice from a fresh lemon
3 tbsp chicken broth
1/2 c pesto
4 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Toss tenders in a bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Let rest from 1 hour. 
Heat large skillet and then add 2 tbsp olive oil. When pan is hot, add the chicken.  Sear on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and rest.
Meanwhile combine the pesto, chicken broth, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times til combined.
Put the fresh arugula in a bowl and toss with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, pine nuts, chicken and drizzle with the pesto.

The salad in the picture shows three tenders.  That is because Matt is a human garbage disposal and can eat more than any human on earth :)